Zhang Xuan had thought of many countermeasures to ensure that Ancient Sage Mo Ling was unable to figure out his true identity, but he had forgotten one crucial factor⁠—time of arrival.

Considering that trouble had only happened a moment ago, the chances were that the one responsible was an appraiser who had arrived that day.

"Four appraisers came today. They are namely Wu Tao from Kaiyong City, Mo Fei from Huhai City…" The middle-aged man quickly took out a list and began reciting some names. Following which, he turned to the crowd and instructed, "The four of you, step out!"

Without any hesitation, Zhang Xuan walked out from the group.

The more hesitant that he was to step out at this moment, the more likely that he would be exposed. Thus, it would be much wiser for him to face the matter courageously instead.

In any case, the current identity that he had assumed, Wu Tao, had a clean background, so there was no need for him to fear anything.

"Am I right to say that the four of you only arrived at the palace earlier today?" Ancient Sage Mo Ling slowly walked up to the four of them and swept his gaze across them.

His gaze paused on Zhang Xuan for a moment, but it did not seem like he noticed anything peculiar about him.

A slight frown emerged on his forehead.

At that moment, Ancient Sage Mo Ling noticed the wary looks on the appraisers' faces within the room, so he calmly explained, "There's no need to panic. We are currently rooting out an intruder who snuck into the palace among you, and we have no intentions of hurting the rest of you. Thus, there's no reason for you to worry about anything."

Hearing that this was a procedure to root out an intruder, the crowd heaved a sigh of relief.

While they might be a little greedy at times, they were indeed real appraisers and had nothing to do with whatever intruder there was in the palace. That naturally meant that there was nothing for them to worry about.

Ancient Sage Mo Ling carefully observed the expressions of the appraisers in the room, but he was still unable to discern anything from the change in their emotions. The frown on his forehead tightened as he continued. "This intruder is a soul oracle, so it's inevitable that his soul won't be as compatible with his body as normal cultivators. I have an artifact that inspects the compatibility between one's soul and physical body, and I need each one of you to come up one by one. Through this, I'll be able to determine who the intruder hiding among you all is."

As he spoke, he snapped his fingers and brought out a round orb. It revolved quietly in the air, emanating a white glow.

"Why don't we start with the four guests who arrived earlier today?" Ancient Sage Mo Ling turned to Zhang Xuan and the other three as he spoke.

"Very well!" One of the appraisers among the group of four stepped out.

According to the name that the middle-aged man had called him earlier, he was Mo Fei.


He walked right up to the round orb, and the white light emanated embraced his body.

Weng!

A series of numbers appeared on the surface of the round orb.

Ninety-four!

"Any compatibility above ninety shows that one is not a soul oracle… You can head down now. Next!" the middle-aged man said.

Under normal circumstances, the compatibility between a person's body and soul would be the highest at birth, reaching one hundred most of the time. However, as one's soul developed through cultivation, it was inevitable that there would be some degree of incompatibility between one's body and soul.

Even so, as long as one was not a soul oracle, the compatibility level would still easily exceed ninety.

Of course, Mo Fei was not surprised to see such a result, so he turned around and returned to the crowd.

Following which, the second appraiser stepped forward and stood under the round orb.

ninety-two!

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The result for the third appraiser was a pass at ninety-six, and it was finally Zhang Xuan's turn to head up.

Taking a deep breath, he walked toward the center of the room.

As there were no soul oracles on the Master Teacher Continent, Zhang Xuan had never seen this artifact before. As such, he was not too sure what the compatibility between his body and soul would be. However, considering that his soul cultivation technique was the Heaven's Path Soul Art, even though he was able to draw his soul out from his body, the compatibility between his body and soul should not be much lower than an ordinary cultivator's.

Standing under the round orb, Zhang Xuan's body was bathed in a warm glow.

Hu!

A series of numbers appeared on the surface of the round orb.

One hundred!

"Hmm? Perfect compatibility?"

Ancient Sage Mo Ling and the middle-aged man were all taken aback.

Achieving a score of one hundred meant that one's body and soul were perfectly compatible with one another! Typically, it would only appear for cultivators who had yet to reach Saint 5-dan Leaving Aperture realm. Considering how the young man's cultivation was already at Saint 7-dan, it was hard to believe that his body and soul still remained so compatible with one another.

"In any case, the fact that his soul is perfectly compatible with his body means that there's no way he's able to separate his soul from his body. So, it's unlikely that he's the intruder…" Ancient Sage Mo Ling shook his head.

He was perplexed by this bewildering result, but there were all kinds of bizarre talents out there in the world. It was not too surprising to see some of them deviating from the norm.

The matter that he should be focusing on at the moment was catching the intruder, and there was no doubt that the latter was a real soul oracle. It was impossible for a soul oracle's soul to be too compatible with their body.

"Continue!"

He had checked on the four appraisers who had arrived that day, but there was nothing off about them. Thus, Ancient Sage Mo Ling could only shake his hand and indicate for the checks to continue.

Soon enough, all two hundred or so appraisers in the room had been put through the check, but none of them had a compatibility that went below ninety.

In other words, similar to the report that he had received earlier, none of the appraisers in the room were a soul oracle.

"Have I guessed wrongly?" Ancient Sage Mo Ling began to doubt himself.

The current situation was truly bewildering to him.

Ever since Sovereign Chen Ling returned from the Master Teacher Continent, the entire palace had undergone several purges to root out all possible spies and enemies hiding in their midst, so the intruder could not possibly be an insider. If none of the appraisers were the culprit… where in the world did that soul oracle appear from?

Seeing that the results were still inconclusive even after the checks, the middle-aged man asked, "Ancient Sage Mo Ling, what do we do now?"

Ancient Sage Mo Ling pondered deeply for a moment before saying, "Proceed with the appraisal as we planned for the time being, but make sure that none of them are allowed to leave the palace… Oh right! Pass me the results of their appraisal first."

"I understand!"

The middle-aged man quickly dispatched some of the guards to the main hall to retrieve the boxes containing the appraisers' valuations of the artifacts.

"Most of these appraisers were able to get quite close to the mark. Only a very small proportion of them have huge fluctuations in the accuracy of their valuations," the middle-aged man reported as he passed the boxes over.

Those who were able to clear the examination and be selected to enter the palace were the cream of the crop of the appraisers. It was still not too difficult for them to appraise the true value of ordinary ores and medicinal herbs.

"Of the Stone of the Fallen Star, the average valuation we have received is 120 pinnacle spirit stone. As for the Chillwater Rock, it's 250 pinnacle spirit stones…" The middle-aged man went through the prices of the artifacts one after another.

Ancient Sage Mo Ling nodded as he swiftly swept through the answers. All of a sudden, his body froze on the spot. He turned to the middle-aged man and asked, "Who is this Wu Tao? How are his answers all so precise?"

Even for two of the same ores, the prices could vary significantly depending on size, coloration, and location of production. As such, it was difficult to assess the objective price of the artifacts. Thus, the prices that the middle-aged man was reporting were based on the average of the valuations made by the two hundred or so appraisers after removing the outliers.

And shockingly, the estimates made by Wu Tao were extremely close to the average.

Most of the appraisers still had a handful of their estimates close to the average, but for the past few ores and medicinal herbs reported, Wu Tao's estimate was only one or two pinnacle spirit stones away from the average. This raised some doubts in Ancient Sage Mo Ling's mind.

"I was also rather perplexed about that," the middle-aged man replied. "I reckon that he must be exceptionally skilled in appraising."

"I can't deny that possibility, but… if I recall correctly, Wu Tao is the person who has a soul-body compatibility of one hundred, right?" A glint flashed across Ancient Sage Mo Ling's eyes.

It was true that appraisers specialized in the field of evaluating the value of objects, but to be able to achieve such high precision every single time was truly unimaginable.

Together with the fact that the other party had a bizarre soul-body compatibility of one hundred, it did feel like something was amiss.

"That's right!" The middle-aged man nodded.

He, too, had sensed that something was off.

Ancient Sage Mo Ling's eyebrows shot up as he commanded, "Bring me all of the information concerning this Appraiser Wu Tao!"

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